Members of one of Manchester’s Jewish communities have given evidence to the Law Commission’s review into hate crime in the UK about their experiences of antisemitic, misogynistic and homophobic attacks.
In a visit by the Law Commission hosted by the British Muslim Heritage Centre, congregants of Jackson’s Row Synagogue who had been targeted by racially-motivated abuse shared their experiences.
One member – Alison – told the Law Commission: “I was walking down the street. I wear a kippah. Two men behind me started saying ‘we need you to run our business’.
“I didn’t understand at first. Then they grabbed me and said it again. Then they said, ‘well if you’re not going to run our business you can at least f**k me’.
“I was terrified, they had grabbed me. I feel when I’m identified as Jewish, the amount of harassment and misogyny I get is much more, and it tends to be much more racial and much more sexualized.”
Other evidence given included that of a member who moved to a different city after a swastika was painted on their house, and a couple that moved home after receiving homophobic hate.
According to the Antisemitism Policy Trust, antisemitic misogyny is on the rise. Last year a Corbyn supporter was sentenced after sending antisemitic abuse to Labour MPs Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger (who since left the party because of its antisemitism crisis).
Charlotte Fischer, who leads that campaign and the work with the Jewish community at Citizens UK, said “antisemitism and misogyny are increasingly interlinked.
“I’m so pleased that Jackson’s Row are working with mosques, schools and other community groups to change the experience Jewish women are having”.
Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, associate rabbi at Jackson’s Row, stated: “I try to model being proud – I’m female, I’m young, I’m Jewish, I wear a kippah – and then [Jews] step onto the streets of Manchester, and they’re subject to abuse on the streets. I get very angry and sad.
“We did a listening campaign in the synagogue and safety came up on top – as women, as Jews, as people who are gay.
“I feel powerless – as a pastoral leader I can only go so far, so I hope that by coming today we can try and change things.”
The review into hate crime was ordered by Lucy Frazer MP last year to “explore how to make current legislation more effective” following a campaign to make misogyny a hate crime.